homebirth & social media part 2

wow, part 2 has taken me forever. i need to preface this by saying i am not opposed to having photographers and doulas and family members at homebirths. it’s your birth, your home, so long as your husband remains mostly fully-clothed (!) you can do whatever you want. i do, however, have some opinions about how photographers/doulas/family members can change the flow of your labor.  and this is related to social media how……? i don’t know. bear with me.

one of the reasons i chose a small midwife practice for the homebirth of my first son was to guarantee myself a face and voice i recognized during labor. i believed it was important to have a midwife who’d seen me through my prenatal care be the one to see me through my labor.  i also had a vague memory from my sophomore year of college when my obstetrician cousin took me along to a complete strangers’ hospital birth. i remember thinking it was super cool to wear scrubs and pretend to belong there until i walked into the room where this primip was laboring on her back, knees to her ears, screaming and sobbing. i could see the babies’ head approaching the perineum but i didn’t know what i was looking at. i remember the smell, the sounds, my cousin telling the lady to stop screaming. i felt ashamed to be there. why was i there? did the mom notice me? her husband came back into the room, from wherever he’d been and the nurse, my cousin and the husband began talking “about” the mom and not “to” the mom. soon the baby was born and everyone was happy, including the mom. but in that moment, that sacred moment of surrender- what the hell was i doing there? i didn’t want that at my birth. no observers, no students, no strangers. i had 3 midwives at the birth of my first son. i’d seen them all throughout my pregnancy and one was a good friend.

i had the same scenario for my 2nd birth. same lovely midwife for all my prenatal care as for my labor and birth. i adored this midwife and knew i wanted to apprentice with her one day. i desperately wanted to impress her with a good labor and fast birth. in the end, i needed her to be my midwife, not my mentor or friend. thankfully, she didn’t try to be my friend. that came years later.

i was pregnant with my 3rd bambino while (whilst) we lived in the uk. the community midwife came to see me at my house for most of my prenatal visits. she was so lovely. she drove a tiny blue car and wore a blue button up dress/uniform with comfortable shoes. i’d make her a coffee and she’d listen to my baby. she told me from the beginning she probably wouldn’t be at my birth. when i went into labor i’d call the community midwife assigned to my area and she’d then call the 2nd midwife on call to assist her. i had no idea who’d come when i called.  at 40+6 i woke up at 4:20am to contractions and some bloody show. i came downstairs, made myself an espresso, as you do and collected my thoughts. after 30 minutes of contractions that made me breath, i woke my husband. he called my in laws who lived 3 miles away to come get our boys. i then called the midwife, yep, just like the book! carol, the midwife, arrived a few minutes later, as did my in laws. i continued to walk and breath through each contraction. my husband began filling the tub. my mother in law came over to say hello. she put her hand gently on my shoulder and i wanted to cry, i could feel myself coming out of this groove i had going on with a desire to be rescued. i thought, briefly, it’d be nice to have her here, someone who knows me and could love me in this moment. then i had a contraction and groaned a little and she freaked out! “get the children” she shouted, “hurry, hurry” and that was that! i quickly found my groove again and the midwife asked to check my cervix to see if she needed to phone the 2nd midwife.  “no way”, i said. she had the 2nd midwife, janie, head on over. there was enough water to get into the tub. i climbed in the warm water, heard the door close outside as my boys got into the in laws’ car and immediately i had to push. it was 6am. carol and janie sat on the floor next to the tub. nick was so confused about what was happening. didn’t i need him to rub my back? hold my hand? something, anything? the midwives told him i was pushing and he was just shocked. i gently pushed my sweet, dark-haired boy out into my hands and brought him up onto my chest at 6:20am. carol and janie smiled sweetly, listened to his heart and lungs and went to make a cup of tea. it was lovely. perfect. two ladies i’d never met before , two midwives doing their job, no fan fair. this one event has made me question so much about american midwifery care in general, but very specifically the need some american homebirthing women have for that deep midwife relationship. surely there is some middle-ground between the experience of the lady in the hospital and my experience in the uk? we seem to have swung so far from any middle ground. women want a care provider who knows them, who has a relationship with them to help them with the most personal, intimate, private part of their lives as women. but they also want birth photographers, birth doulas, family members and friends to share in this moment.

i very rarely see birth work efficiently when it’s treated like a social event. it works, but not efficiently.  there comes that time for every single woman, regardless of how easy early labor has been, where she must surrender. she will look at every face in the room to rescue her before she’ll give in, give up. i don’t think i had a 2 hour labor because i didn’t know my midwives. but i knew going into that birth that i was on my own in many ways. i knew going in that it was me and labor. in my opinion, birth is not a social event. it’s not set up to work like that. we crave privacy and dark to labor. choosing to birth at home doesn’t change that innate need/desire for privacy and dark.  this is you bringing the life you and your husband created into your home.

what’s your experience with  homebirth & social media? homebirth and birth photography? did having a photographer change anything about how you labored? makeup? what you wore? did you think about what your pictures would look like on facebook or twitter? did you tweet during your labor?

thanks for sharing:) xxx

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9 thoughts on “homebirth & social media part 2

  1. I was a photography major in college, but the LAST thing I wanted at my birth was a photographer. I’d rather have had my mother-in-law! No, I didn’t want to think about what I was looking like or what a semi-stranger being paid to do nothing but look at me was thinking, no matter how beautifully she documents births. In the end, we unexpectedly got some beautiful photos captured on my iPhone almost immediately after my son’s birth by one of our wonderful attendants (<3) and that is enough.

    I also didn't post anywhere that I was in labor. The ONLY people who knew were us, my midwives, my BFF who was watching my dog, and my other BFF who lives on the other side of the country. I'm extremely glad of this decision, as I was in labor for 2 full days and the pressure I'd have felt from everyone knowing and WAITING would have been immense. I even made a few decoy posts when I could manage them to avoid arousing suspicion! Hahah I guess you could say I'm a pretty private person 😛 So, YES I did tweet during labor, but it was just a picture of my azaleas blooming!

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    • Oh and it was so FUN to call everyone up and say “it’s a boy!” when they’d had no clue they were awaiting that call!! James’ sister said something to him like “I told you not to call me until she’s in labor…” He replied “you’re not listening.” Hahahah

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  2. We had a short list of people we were going to tell when I went into labor (all family and close friends) and a list of those we’d call after our baby arrived. My husband got excited and told more people than I preferred that I was in labor. Like Eutheria mentioned, people were already breathing down our necks about when I was going to have the baby, even though I went into labor on my “due date.”
    I had my husband and mom, midwife and her assistant at our home birth. As I had anticipated, I did not want to talk to anyone the whole time– I didn’t even want a lot of the back rubbing or “support” many women seem to get or want. I needed to pace and breathe and count and let my mind be blank. My husband said I acted like I was drunk, especially at transition. I did not think about what I looked like, and I was naked most of the time. My mom ended up snapping a lot of pictures on my camera, and I am so grateful now to have those moments captured, though most were “inappropriate” for sharing. I’m actually glad they’re so intimate– I want the memory to remain that way.

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    • I bet you do love those pictures! I’ve got a hilarious video my husband took of our 4th being born. He filmed all the way up until I looked to see if we’d indeed had our 4th boy and then stopped taping! But I certainly shall never forget that moment when we realized we’d had a lovely girl called zoë. Amazing, praise God. She was gorgeous.
      It’s so funny your husband said you acted like you were drunk! Was this your first? I think it was, right? I describe my first as an out of body experience, for sure!

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  3. I think there is a difference in having a helpful crowd and having needy people at a birth. I always have a crowd and I love it, but I don’t invite needy people, they all have a role and they are comfortable in that role and I don’t have to come out of my birth to direct. That makes for a good birth for me. My second birth it was just my husband and I and though it was super fast, I had to tell him constantly what to do and I did not enjoy it. If I had my mother around or someone who was not comfortable it would probably change things a whole lot more! We don’t call needy people until its all over 🙂

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  4. “there comes that time for every single woman, regardless of how easy early labor has been, where she must surrender. she will look at every face in the room to rescue her before she’ll give in, give up.” I read this before giving birth the second time and worried that I wouldn’t be able to surrender considering my previous birth experience. Now that I’m on the other side I fully understand this. I need intense privacy during labor. My only regret is not video taping the birth as we had planned. There is so much I don’t remember. Poor hubby was too afraid to ask when it came time if I wanted him to set up the camera, which I don’t blame him at all.

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    • Every woman’s surrender looks different. Sometimes it looks like they are defeated and they give in to to the pain as it washes over them. Sometimes they surrender but do so kicking and screaming AND sometimes surrendering looks like taking the bull by the horns and giving fear and the fear monger’s the finger. I’m pretty sure you were giving the finger.

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